Current Issue #488

Working from home: Adelaide creatives share their survival secrets

Aldo Mignone and Isabella Wood of Studio Mignone
Sia Duff
Aldo Mignone and Isabella Wood of Studio Mignone

All around the country the line between work and home grows blurrier by the day as social distancing sends workers packing from their offices. But despite the appeal of clocking on while still wearing trackpants, working from home can be trickier than it sounds.

One demographic with plenty of experience navigating the messy distinction between professional and personal lives is artists. To help you through this period of adjustment, we asked a series of Adelaide creatives how they make their home-based practice work, and what advice they wish someone had given them when they first started out at staying in.

Ayesha Aggarwal
Sia Duff

Ayesha Aggarwal


Having your work in the same space that you unwind can make leave you feeling permanently switched on. Since my studio is also my living room, I can’t draw physical boundaries so I draw psychological ones instead!

I tell myself that there are certain tasks that signal that I’m absolutely done for the day no matter how much I’m itching to paint one more pot — because it’s midnight and sleep is good too, yeah? A simple trick I use is to change out of my clay covered clothes into clean ones.

After that I’m just preoccupied with not getting covered in clay again so I stay right away from my work (like 97 per cent of the time).

Emma Aiston and Daniel To
Sia Duff

Daniel To and Emma Aiston

Designers, Jamfactory creative directors

Routine, routine, routine! We treat working from home as a ‘normal’ job, we wake up, exercise, shower, get dressed, make a cup of tea, run out of the door frazzled with a burnt piece of toast in hand and wet hair, then walk to the studio (in our back garden) ready to start the day!

Sia Duff

Tsering Hannaford


I like to separate my ‘working day’ from ‘home time’ with some exercise. At around 6 or 7pm I set down the brushes and either go out for a run, hike or sometimes just a walk around the block. This helps me ‘switch off’ from work.

I also make my morning routine quick and simple so I can get up and into the studio without delay. I have a ‘work uniform’ of clothes I wear in the studio – cutting out decisions helps eliminate time wasting.

I use an app called Toggl to time and categorise different activities throughout the day. It’s really helpful for productivity and making sure I’m working enough hours, or not too many per week! 

The last tip probably doesn’t apply right now but I also cluster appointments/ outings/volunteering/catch ups so my working days are not too interrupted.

My final thought: public holidays and weekends do lose their significance when you work from home or for yourself!

Sia Duff

Julie White and Peter Drew


Have a designated space each; a defined work space makes the boundaries clear when you’re working and not.

Show respect for each other’s work space. Sounds obvious, but demonstrating it through small actions makes a big difference. It could be as simple as knocking on the door before you enter their space, and if no door – knock on something!

Respect each other’s working headspace; like the door knocking scenario, if you’ve got something buzzing around in your head you’d like to blurt out while they’re working, don’t. It’s polite to ask first, “do you mind if I ask you something about blah de blah blah?” But also consider first if you’re just being a distraction… if yes, you can save it for later when you’re both not working.

Set time for work, and time for each other – very important when the boundaries are invisible.

Your partner is not a human notepad. While it’s not wise to use each other to dump your working brain onto, it’s okay if you need help at times when you’re just plain stuck. Use it as an opportunity to listen, too. Maybe they might need help with their own thing too? Sharing is caring.

Have a proper lunch break together – don’t forget to break up your day, have a stretch and keep the human contact going! Meet by the pretend water cooler before you circle back to the emails.

Accept you’re not going to be 100 per cent in sync for work on and off times.

While this is all about work, make sure you check in on how each one is feeling in your heart too. Quite simply, if your heart’s not feeling great, you won’t be able to work properly. Sure, you can force it on your own but be careful… that tension has a funny, unpredictable way of breaking out!

Aldo Mignone, Isabella Wood and studio 'foreman' Otto
Sia Duff

Isabella Wood and Aldo Mignone

Furniture makers

The greatest yet most challenging thing about working from or near your home is the potential for the work/life lines to become blurred. I think this can have a profound effect on what you produce but the downside of this work/life immersion is the understandable cabin fever that may ensue. We go to workplaces for a reason and when you work from home, the boundaries can get stretched into your kitchen, through your conversation at dinnertime and sometimes into your toothpaste while you are brushing your teeth before bed.

If you want to be a normal person in this world, keep things clean by setting work boundaries. The mental boundaries are key. Make time for daily or weekly meetings and stick to it. This is an essential time when all work matters can be discussed without them being dragged back into your home. It allows your mind to switch off from work mode, knowing that there will be a designated time to discuss something that could come to mind while you are having down time.

Another good tip is to have out-of-the-house meetings at least weekly. We have a coffee every Friday morning at Willmott’s after dropping our toddler off at daycare. Fridays are a nice day to reflect on what we have achieved and look to the week ahead. Now that we are isolating, we take a walk to a park around the corner with our dog and get a bit of sunshine and throw a ball while we discuss important business things.

Olivia Kathigitis
Sia Duff

Olivia Kathigitis

Artist and jewellery maker

Starting to work from home came out of necessity for me; I needed somewhere to make earrings and artwork quickly and easily. The more my business took off, the more my studio became a full-time work space. It definitely took a lot of trial and error to get the best out of the space.

I wish someone had told me to hold a routine early on. It seems obvious and simple, but it is rather hard when you’re working from home and have bed, food and TV just a few steps away. I made the conscious decision to take my dog to the park every morning before breakfast and without my phone. This simple step allowed me to start my day with fresh air and socialising with the community; which got me out of bed at the same time every day. As this routine began to become concrete, I found I entered my studio with the foundations to a productive day. I used my dog as the motivation of a healthy routine.

The evenings are similar as I have a rule with myself that I am not allowed to work past 5pm, because then it impedes on my work/life balance. No commission or deadline is more important than my mental health.

Also having your coffee break in the sun is a lovely recharge. 

Sia Duff
Here’s a bonus photo of Olivia’s dog Dingo. It’s been a long week, we’re sure you’ve earned it.
Walter Marsh

Walter Marsh

Digital Editor
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Walter is a writer and editor living on Kaurna Country.

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